Settimana santa Ripacandida

The Sacred performance of Ripacandida

The celebrations at Ripacandida are the most recent of the Lucanian Sacred Performances of the Passion of Christ. The Via Crucis involves around a hundred characters who participate in a procession much loved by the citizens. Among the more interesting characters, apart from Christ, we remember the Moor and the Gypsy. The Passion of Christ combines the highest religiosity with very deep popular sentiment which is typical of this part of Lucania, where performances of the Passion are a secular event, in which faith, religion and, in some parts, folklore, create a charming occasion. They are also the object of numerous anthropological studies.

Sacred performances during Holy Week

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The drama of the Passion of Christ is performed in the streets and piazzas of Vulture-Melfese where Holy Week is marked by a succession of Sacred Performances. The processions organised in the Lucanian district faithfully reproduce the texts of the holy scriptures and are set in natural surroundings and in some of the characteristic landmarks of the Vulture towns.

Festival of the Madonna della Bruna

According to tradition, since 1389, every year on the 2nd July, Matera celebrates the Madonna della Bruna, the city’s Patron saint. Steeped in religious traditions, full of vibrant pagan rites, this spectacular festival is magical to be a part of. The Madonna della Bruna festival is the longest day of the year for Materans: the entire city pays homage to the Virgin, with celebrations long-awaited by the faithful. The festival celebrates the Virgin Mary apparition to a peasant, in a neighbourhood known today as Piccianello. The Carro Trionfale, a giant float, carries the Madonna around the streets of the town centre, up to the Cathedral. At night, the float continues its journey across the town’s central square, where it is grabbed and destroyed by the citizens, according to tradition.

The legend

A mysterious noble woman appeared to a peasant and his child while they were walking to the town. It is told that they agreed to take her to the inhabited centre. Once at the district known today as Piccianello district, in front of the most notable people in town, she disclosed all the magnificence of the Virgin Mary and asked the peasant to bring a letter to the Bishop, where she revealed she was the Mother of Jesus. All bystanders had a sudden flash of inspiration and since then, each year, on the 2nd of July, the apparition of the Virgin has been commemorated by carrying her statue in procession along the streets of Matera, on a giant float that is grabbed and destroyed by the citizens.

San Gerardo La Porta - Patrono di Potenza

Festival of the Patron Saint

A great event across faith, religious worship and tradition takes place every year.

The patron saint of Potenza, Saint Gerardo da Piacenza, is celebrated each year, on the 30th of May, when his effigy is carried in procession along the main streets of the capital. The day before, during the Historical Parade of the Turks, the sacred merges with the profane, history and legend come together and the ancient and the modern combine to give birth to one whole thing.


Gentlemen on steeds covered with drapes parade through the main streets of the city, next to commoners on small carts pulled by oxen, along with slaves, odalisques, flag-wavers, jugglers, sword throwers and other performers. This very long historical procession recalls three moments: the 19th century, with a commemoration in Piazza Sedile where the traditional Iaccara is lighted; the 16th century, at Porta Salza, where Count Alfonso de Guevara receives the silver keys of the city; and the third ‘picture’, with the procession and popular devotion to the Patron Saint in the 12th century. The Parade narrates the legend according to which, as a result of San Gerardo’s intercession, the invasion of the Turks who wanted to besiege the city was stopped.


“Lu Braccial” – Popular song dedicated to San Gerardo

Je facc’ lu braccial e nun lu nèa,
e so cuntent e so cuntent assaie.

Nun l’abbanduneragg’ mai mai,
la zappa, lu zappit e lu pagliare.

Mò m’zappa l’urticiedd’
Mò m’zappa lu seminar,
e ogni anno ‘nu purciedd
nun me l’aggia fa mai manca!

Tigne na vigna accant à la jumara
Me pare na canestra chiena d’uva

Tigne na casa n’dreta a lu pagliare
ca quann’ trase vire lu monn’ nuove:
Int’ è chiéne d’ patate,
savucicchie e vine nuovo;
chi la iàsca e chi l’ucciuòlo,
ie me sènt’ d’arricrià!

Domenica m’aggia mett’ lu vuariniedd’,
Ca aggia gì appress a la prucessiona,
ca è la festa d’ lu Prutettore
ca stà esposto sova a lu muraglione.

San Gerarde Prutettore De Putenza Generale
Gnanna fa piglià nu mal’ a chi l’anna disprezzà!

*voice of Michele di Potenza

The “Preggessione” of Oppido Lucano

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Since 1979 the “Preggessione” has been organised by the Group for Recovery of Local Traditions which, reprising an ancient custom, follows an original script accompanied by musical extracts, specially chosen to reinforce each scene. Around 180 local people take part at 5.30 pm, with a crowded and joyous entrance into Jerusalem. It continues with the other scenes in the central Piazza Guglielmo Marconi: the miracle of the Man Born Blind, The Last Supper, the Conspiracy of the Sanhedrin, the Temptation of Judas and Judas before the Sanhedrin, The Garden of the Olives, Jesus’s Capture, the Trial before the High Priest, the Weeping of Peter, the Trial before Caiaphas, the entrance of the Roman Praetorians followed by the Governor Pontius Pilate on a chariot, the Trial in praetorium before Pontius Pilate, the Trial before Herod, Jesus again with Pontius Pilate and the Flagellation with the desperation of Judas. Jesus, then laden with the Cross, begins the Via Crucis, which winds along the streets of the centre of Oppido Lucano. At the end of the route, there are moving scenes of the Crucifixion and the Deposition. Where: Oppido Lucano (PZ)

The procession of the Mysteries

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On Good Friday, the statues of the Mysteries retrace the stops on the Via Crucis, going through the city at a very slow pace. Among the more evocative statues is that of the Madonna of the Sorrows, followed by others depicting Christ at the Column, Jesus Crucified, Christ Dead and the Pietà. The procession returns late at night and the statues are carried back again to the respective churches. The event, in which the four guilds of Montescaglioso participate, has its origins in the ceremonies of the Passion of Christ from southern Spain. An evocative atmosphere pervades the Chiesa Madre whilst the choir sings “The Lullabies’.

Where: Montescaglioso (MT)

Sacra rappresentazione di Rapolla

The Sacred performance of Rapolla

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The Crucifixion is staged in the Parco Urbano of the cellar-caves at Rapolla, whilst the procession of the Dead Christ winds along streets illuminated only by the faint light of candles in a beautifully intense atmosphere. The procession which includes pious women, wearing black garments decorated with a violet bow, continuously alternates religious songs with the prayers of the Priests and the faithful. Various stages are arranged on which all the phases of the Passion of Christ are enacted, from the conviction to the Crucifixion. The pious women follow the procession, each one carrying a candle in her hand which enhances the intimacy of the event.
Where: Rapolla (PZ)

The Sacred performance of Atella

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In the Angevin city of Atella, the Via Crucis winds along the charming streets. The “Cyrenean” who, as referred to in the Gospels, helped Christ to carry the cross, is chosen from amongst the crowd. On Maundy Thursday, the Via Crucis of Atella relives the phases leading up to the death of Jesus: the three teardrops, the meeting with the Madonna and those with the Samaritan who offers him something to drink and with Veronica who dries his face. These sacred events unfold in the historic centre, in a well worn path which is shared by the locals and anyone else who chooses to participate in a special example of history and culture. Stopping along different points in the town, it undertakes a journey recreating Jesus’ trial and the judgement of Pilate who, encouraged by the people, sentences him to death.
Where: Atella (PZ)

The Sacred performance of Barile

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The oldest Via Crucis in the region is held here. The procession of the Mysteries is combined with symbolism reminscent of Albania. 117 actors, subdivided into 25 groups, – all chosen from the local people – recreate the Passion of Christ. Amongst this group, it is possible to distinguish the leading figures of the main episodes of the Via Crucis – after Jesus come the priests, the pious women, the Pharisees, the Madonna, the Apostles – and certain characters who are alien to our religious culture, including the Gypsy next to the Gypsy girl and the Moor together with the young moorish boy who represent the trap, the unknown. At the head of the religious procession are three centurions on horseback playing trumpets – the work of local artisans, as are the other accessories and costumes worn by the actors – and three little girls dressed in white. They are followed by the Three Marys, a girl in a black garment, who carries a banner bearing the signs of the Passion of Christ, and thirty three young girls wearing purple dresses recalling the age of Jesus at the time of his death.
Where: Barile (PZ)

Venosa Sacre rappresentazioni

The Sacred performance of Venosa

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The Last Supper is staged in Piazza San Giovanni de Matha with the table and chairs laid out, mirroring the style of the time. About a hundred characters make up the procession which progresses towards the town hall or to the Fontana Angioina where, before the eyes of the crowd, Jesus is captured. Everything then moves to Piazza Castello for the trial, presided over by the High Priest Caiaphas who has the Master arrested. The atmosphere is heavy with emphasis when Peter denies Jesus at the rampart of the Castello Pirro del Balzo, which is also the setting for the flogging scene. After the trial, the procession crosses the city’s main avenue as far as Piazza Orazio, where the encounter between Jesus and the Madonna takes place. The Crucifixion, followed by the Resurrection, takes place in Piazza Castello.
Where: Venosa (PZ)